Source: Intel error pinches Apple's MacBook Pro updates but delays minor

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
A widely publicized chip design error on Intel's part has disrupted Apple's plans for its next-generation MacBook Pro models, but the impact will be largely immaterial to both the company's bottom line and its customers, AppleInsider Â*has been told.



Intel said late last month that a design flaw in all of its 6 Series Cougar Point chipsets -- due to support new Sandy Bridge Core processors bound for mainstream notebooks and desktops like Apple's MacBook Pro and iMacs -- would delay volume launches of those chips due to a lapse in production while it corrected the glitch.



The impact on Apple due to the setback hasn't been immediately clear. However, one person familiar with the matter tells AppleInsider Â*that some -- not all -- of the company's upcoming MacBook Pros were affected by the situation. According to this person, the Mac maker elected to make minor tweaks to the logic boards of those models, but that those changes would translate to a delay of less than two weeks.



Reading between the lines can only lead to speculation that Apple was an early recipient of some of those Cougar Point chipsets from Intel, and that the changes it's making involve tweaks to SATA ports that those MacBook Pros will utilize.



Those chipsets offer support for a total of six SATA ports, but Intel acknowledged the only problem with the chips was the potential for four of those ports -- 2 through 5 -- to "degrade over time, potentially impacting the performance or functionality of SATA-linked devices such as hard disk drives and DVD-drives."



However, an Intel spokesperson confirmed that that the problem does not affect SATA ports 0 or 1, so any system builders that received those parts would be clear to ship those chips in systems that utilize only ports 0 or 1. For its part, Apple makes use of only two SATA ports in its current MacBook Pros, according to iFixit teardown specialist Kyle Wiens, and has no reason to require more going forward.



"There are two connections on the board -- one for optical drive, and one for HDD," Â*he said. "The other internal devices (trackpad, keyboard, SD card reader, etc.) use USB."







In total, Intel said it shipped roughly 8 million of the Cougar Point chipsets to system manufacturers before it discovered the error but that "relatively few consumers" were impacted by this issue because the only systems that actually made it into end consumers hands' were those based on its new Sandy Bridge Core i5 and Core i7 quad core processors for desktop systems. The rest of the chips -- presumably some of which went to Apple -- hadn't yet been built into systems available to consumers.



As such, the launch window for Apple's new MacBook Pros, which have been rumored to "feature a slight change in chassis design" and speculated to employ the Sandy Bridge Core processors listed in the chart below, remains hazy. Still, evidence from those familiar with the matter and checks within the company's supply chain suggest a period sooner than later -- likely between late February and early April for volume shipments.







Apple as early as last month began drawing down inventories of its lower volume MacBook Pros, namely the 17-inch model, in anticipation of the transition. For instance, some of the company's largest resellers including Amazon direct, MacMall and J&R Computer World (1,2,3) have long run dry of this model. And just this week, MacConnection and MacMall appear to have run into trouble securing more of the two high-end 15-inch models (1,2,3,4), which are now both out of stock.



People familiar with the buy side of operations for big box retailers like Amazon and Best Buy say Apple initially offered restocking dates of late January for those MacBook Pros but then missed those dates and pushed them out a week late. This trend has continued for the past two weeks, where a restocking date is supplied, only to be missed and rescheduled.



According to those same people, such anomalies in Apple's Mac supply chain only manifest in the face of a significant production problem or on the cusp of major product line refresh.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 32
    gary54gary54 Posts: 169member
    and will keep using the defective chipsets, that says they were/are intending to ship with the sata II interface, not the sata III interface. That's not cool either
  • Reply 2 of 32
    The high end 15" and the 17" are definitely running low at resellers.
  • Reply 3 of 32
    "Not all" will be effected seems to imply that the next 13" MacBook Pro won't include Sandy, which is going to upset me. I have a white Macbook from 2006 that has a 2.0Ghz Core2Duo Apple, I do not want to buy essentially the same processor 5 years later.



    Also, I still call BS on Intel's claim that only ports 2-5 are impacted. How convenient that out of the 6 SATA ports, the 2 most commonly used are magically OK, thus avoiding a full recall.
  • Reply 4 of 32
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gary54 View Post


    and will keep using the defective chipsets, that says they were/are intending to ship with the sata II interface, not the sata III interface. That's not cool either



    Can you expound on that thought? Why does that mean no sata III?
  • Reply 5 of 32
    gary54gary54 Posts: 169member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mebbert View Post


    Can you expound on that thought? Why does that mean no sata III?





    The defect only affects the sata II ports. If they had intended to use the sata III ports, then no changes would have been required and they would have been good to go as it was. So if they have to shift to the sata III, that means they had intended to use the sata II. Since there is more involved in the whole interface than the chipset, I suspect that means we will still see sata II performance.
  • Reply 6 of 32
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gary54 View Post


    The defect only affects the sata II ports. If they had intended to use the sata III ports, then no changes would have been required and they would have been good to go as it was. So if they have to shift to the sata III, that means they had intended to use the sata II. Since there is more involved in the whole interface than the chipset, I suspect that means we will still see sata II performance.



    Ah, I didn't realize that (obviously). Shame...but I guess you can't win them all. Wonder why they weren't planning shifting to SATA III in the first place. \
  • Reply 7 of 32
    ssquirrelssquirrel Posts: 1,196member
    Funny that the resellers are having trouble getting those models. The Apple Store gives 1-3 biz days for the top end 15 and 17" MBPs after you customize them.
  • Reply 8 of 32
    Just bring them. Have delayed purchase since Oct but now I'm going to need a laptop in the next 2 weeks, so hurry!!!
  • Reply 9 of 32
    jkgmjkgm Posts: 22member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SSquirrel View Post


    Funny that the resellers are having trouble getting those models. The Apple Store gives 1-3 biz days for the top end 15 and 17" MBPs after you customize them.



    Yeah, not funny for the third-party distributors and resellers who can't get them at all any more.
  • Reply 10 of 32
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gary54 View Post


    The defect only affects the sata II ports. If they had intended to use the sata III ports, then no changes would have been required and they would have been good to go as it was. So if they have to shift to the sata III, that means they had intended to use the sata II. Since there is more involved in the whole interface than the chipset, I suspect that means we will still see sata II performance.



    I don't see the downside. This rumor, if true, basically means Apple will use the SATA 6.0 ports, regardless of their original plan to utilize 3.0 ports. Even if your conjecture is true, at worst, the SATA 6.0 will perform like a 3.0. But the best case scenario would be the 6.0 ports will perform at 6.0 levels, meaning flash drive users should benefit. Those devices could utilize the additional bandwidth.



    One reason Apple may have wanted to use the 3.0 ports in the new models - if this rumor is true - is that 6.0 requires slightly more power than 3.0. All things considered, perhaps Apple decided the potential performance advantage for what would be only the small minority of notebooks equipped with flash drives wasn't worth the power consumption. Now, the defect has altered the calculus and perhaps Apple has decided to take a slightly shorter battery life in exchange for avoiding a lengthy shipping delay.
  • Reply 11 of 32
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,803member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gary54 View Post


    and will keep using the defective chipsets, that says they were/are intending to ship with the sata II interface, not the sata III interface. That's not cool either



    However it could be the result of something different. I'm still thinking the goal was or should be to supply the new Mac Books with multiple blade SSD slots. That would obviously require the use of additional SATA ports.



    In a nut shell if Apple doesnt have a long term goal to build MBP with multiple blade SSD slots they are frankly off their rockers. Everything about those blades cries out for multiple slots in the larger notebooks.
  • Reply 12 of 32
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,803member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by clickmyface View Post


    "Not all" will be effected seems to imply that the next 13" MacBook Pro won't include Sandy, which is going to upset me. I have a white Macbook from 2006 that has a 2.0Ghz Core2Duo Apple, I do not want to buy essentially the same processor 5 years later.



    It could mean no Sandy Bridge in the 13" machine or it could mean something else. For example it could mean that the 13" machines design is un affected. That is easy to imagine as the smaller chassis only has so much room to work with.



    Even if they stay Core 2 I highly doubt it will be running at 2 GHz. Thus it isn't the same processor and even more importantly it isn't the same GPU.

    Quote:



    Also, I still call BS on Intel's claim that only ports 2-5 are impacted. How convenient that out of the 6 SATA ports, the 2 most commonly used are magically OK, thus avoiding a full recall.



    This is the element in your post that caused me to respond. Frankly I wonder if you understood Intels explanation at all. Intel went to great lengths to document clearly what was wrong and where. I really see no way for you to justify your position, unless of course Intel is making all of this up. Maybe you don't have a strong electronics background, if so it is a major mistake on your part to post such a comment.
  • Reply 13 of 32
    vandilvandil Posts: 187member
    For the first time since May of 2005, I am in the market to purchase a MacBook Pro for myself. (Finally retiring my 17" PowerBook G4 1.67GHz.) Yes, it lasted for 6 years.



    If the new refresh of MacBook Pro hardware will last about as long, Apple can take as long as they need to get a quality product ready for sale.
  • Reply 14 of 32
    gary54gary54 Posts: 169member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ddarko View Post


    I don't see the downside. This rumor, if true, basically means Apple will use the SATA 6.0 ports, regardless of their original plan to utilize 3.0 ports. Even if your conjecture is true, at worst, the SATA 6.0 will perform like a 3.0. But the best case scenario would be the 6.0 ports will perform at 6.0 levels, meaning flash drive users should benefit. Those devices could utilize the additional bandwidth.



    One reason Apple may have wanted to use the 3.0 ports in the new models - if this rumor is true - is that 6.0 requires slightly more power than 3.0. All things considered, perhaps Apple decided the potential performance advantage for what would be only the small minority of notebooks equipped with flash drives wasn't worth the power consumption. Now, the defect has altered the calculus and perhaps Apple has decided to take a slightly shorter battery life in exchange for avoiding a lengthy shipping delay.





    up or downside is 3gbs bandwidth. If there is a 6gbs interface available and you don't have a drive capable of taking advantage of the extra bandwidth afforded by sata III, that's your choice.



    If 6gbs is not available on the machine, its not your choice. You can spring for the fastest ssd on the market and still top end at 3gbs. Setting aside the possibility of any express card fed external raid units. Having or not having sata III would count for a lot.
  • Reply 15 of 32
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by vandil View Post


    For the first time since May of 2005, I am in the market to purchase a MacBook Pro for myself. (Finally retiring my 17" PowerBook G4 1.67GHz.) Yes, it lasted for 6 years.



    If the new refresh of MacBook Pro hardware will last about as long, Apple can take as long as they need to get a quality product ready for sale.



    Same here - 17" PowerBook G4 1.67GHz, see my Setup in Signature... I'm gonna do my best to wait till iPhone 5, and then do Maxed Out MBP Custom Built! And, if 10.7 Lion is out by then, man it'll be a Giant Leap for me to Migrate from 10.4.1 to 10.7, Lion! The 3rd Party Developers will be going nuts too, trying to Upgrade their software for that Lion OS!



    1st Batch of New MBPs a possible Lemon? I hope not! But, with my Timeline, that involves iPhone 5, by August 2011, that'll give MBP's enough time to settle in, and for Apple to quietly make improvement between April and August? But hopefully Apple will wait, rather than rush to meet a deadline!!!



    I'm glad that this Error was caught now rather then later...



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    However it could be the result of something different. I'm still thinking the goal was or should be to supply the new Mac Books with multiple blade SSD slots. That would obviously require the use of additional SATA ports.



    In a nut shell if Apple doesnt have a long term goal to build MBP with multiple blade SSD slots they are frankly off their rockers. Everything about those blades cries out for multiple slots in the larger notebooks.



    By multiple blade SSD slots, Multiple SSD Hard Drives in Macbook Pros? That would be a Dream!!! And Expensive one too, since SSD HDs are expensive still!!! Also, would Multiple SSD HDs mean no DVD? Otherwise, where would they put those blades? Also, it'll be a heavier load on the battery, right?



    Does any other laptop come with Multiple SSD Hard Drives these days, or is that what you suspect might be the roadmap for laptops in the entire industry, not just Apple? If so, please include the links in support of your thoughts!



    Thanks guys!
  • Reply 16 of 32
    I arrived home tonight to find my 2006 Macbook Pro battery bulging from the bottom. Second battery since I purchased it which isn't bad at all. I just hope that I don't have to wait to long to upgrade to a 2011 MacBook Pro. Even with the delay due to Intel I would rather wait than have a defective MacBook short out on me down the road.
  • Reply 17 of 32
    My early 2010 13'' MBP was stolen this week from my desk at University Medical Center. I was really pissed off because it contained some of my data which I still had to process. Thankfully, the UMC agreed to fully reimburse my laptop, but I need one right now, and I don't want to buy a C2D again. Hurry up, Steve!
  • Reply 18 of 32
    I applaud Intel for being forthright about this issue. Other companies have had flaws, only to deny them vigorously in order to stave off lawsuits (Sony's firmware updates that broke gen 1 PS3 blu-ray drives comes to mind). Or the whole Taiwanese blown capacitor problem that plagued many PC makers a few years back (it still happens). Dell had to pay to settle that class action. Intel did the right thing.
  • Reply 19 of 32
    Methinks I will pass this year and wait for the next update.
  • Reply 20 of 32
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


    I applaud Intel for being forthright about this issue. Other companies have had flaws, only to deny them vigorously in order to stave off lawsuits (Sony's firmware updates that broke gen 1 PS3 blu-ray drives comes to mind). Or the whole Taiwanese blown capacitor problem that plagued many PC makers a few years back (it still happens). Dell had to pay to settle that class action. Intel did the right thing.



    Intel is being forthright as it's cost them hundreds of millions in pre-sales. The early estimate of a $700 Million charge will turn out to be a small projection.



    This isn't a flaw in the SSE Unit that has a work around. This is a fundamental bus flaw that screws up essential I/O performance for the entire system.



    That's something Data Centers and more will not tolerate and another reason why AMD Bulldozer coming out any week now will stomp all over it.



    Apple should expand it's horizons and offer two variants of it's designs for workstation/desktop/notebook solutions.
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